Dr. James S. Kim, DDS. SC

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Appliance Therapy for Grinding, Clenching, and Headaches

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We strongly encourage and invite questions from our patients. An educated and informed patient is a patient who is empowered to take control over his or her own healthcare. Please take a look through this selection of questions our patients often ask. If your question is not answered here or if you’d like further information, please give us a call at 715-849-5667

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Appliance Therapy for Grinding, Clenching, and Headaches

A migraine headache is incredibly painful and debilitating… but what does it have to do with your teeth?

Actually, it could have everything to do with your teeth!

Migraines have a host of causes. Some people can easily identify their migraine triggers, such as excess stress or certain foods. Others, however, find that their migraine triggers appear to be a mystery. In these cases, a dentist can help.

Some migraines are triggered by bruxism, a condition in which the patient involuntarily clenches and grinds their teeth. This often occurs overnight, while you are sleeping. The constant clenching of the muscles is believed to irritate the nerves, which leads to a migraine headache. By treating the bruxism, we can prevent the migraines. 

Treatment is usually pretty simple. A customized splint (often referred to as a “nightguard”) helps to stop the clenching and grinding while you sleep, preventing the muscle tension and nerve irritation. By treating the source of your migraines, we can prevent them! Splints come in different sizes and styles. Dr. Kim will carefully analyze your situation to identify the appropriate type of splint for your needs.

If you suffer from migraines and nothing seems to be helping, please call our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim to find out if a custom-made night guard could help stop your headaches.

In plain speech, bruxism is a disorder in which a person unconsciously and compulsively grinds or clenches their teeth.

Causes of bruxism vary but can include stress, certain sleep disorders, or dental problems like crooked or missing teeth.

If bruxism goes untreated, the result could be painful headaches and migraines, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD), and tooth damage.

Once we understand the causes of your bruxism, we can recommend an appropriate plan of action. If stress is contributing to your bruxism, it might be wise to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to find out if you can reduce the amount of stress in your life or the way you react to it. If a sleep disorder is the culprit, scheduling an appointment for a sleep study may help. If a dental problem is the likely cause, we can explore orthodontics or tooth restoration options to bring your teeth into proper alignment.

In the meantime, we can prevent pain and further damage to your teeth with an occlusal guard (often known as a “nightguard”). The nightguard is worn while you sleep when most tooth grinding happens. Depending on your needs, it can keep your teeth from coming into contact with each other or absorb the force from the grinding.  

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